Keyontae Johnson resumes college basketball career at K-State

Johnson made the announcement on social media Saturday, choosing the Wildcats over other finalists from Memphis, Nebraska and Western Kentucky.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Former Florida forward Keyontae Johnson, who collapsed in a game in December 2020 and hasn’t played since, is heading to Kansas State to resume his college career.

Johnson made the announcement on social media Saturday, choosing the Wildcats over other finalists from Memphis, Nebraska and Western Kentucky. The 23-year-old Norfolk, Va. native will have one more year of eligibility, though he could apply for another from the NCAA.

Johnson graduated from Florida in late April and announced his intention to transfer a few days later. K-State and new coach Jerome Tang hosted Johnson during a recruiting visit in July.

“We are so thrilled to welcome Keyontae and her family to K-State,” Tang said in a statement. “He’s a gifted player and a winner who brings significant experience to our team after playing in one of the toughest leagues in the country while in Florida. Beyond that, we believe Keyontae is a perfect match for the guys we already have in the program. We can’t wait to take him to Manhattan and introduce him to Wildcat Nation!

Johnson said he had received medical clearance to play again, which Florida officials said he would not perform in Gainesville. Now, he will have the chance to face his former team next season; K-State hosts the Gators on Jan. 28 in the annual SEC-Big 12 Challenge.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Johnson could be a potential difference-maker for the Wildcats, who are rebuilding under Tang after going 14-17 in coach Bruce Weber’s final year in Manhattan. Johnson averaged 14 points and 7.1 rebounds in his final full season (2019-20) at Florida. He was a Southeastern Conference first-team selection as a sophomore.

He still has a $5 million insurance policy that would pay out if he never played again. The policy allows him to participate in a handful of games to test his health. If it continues beyond the set number of games, any potential payout would be forfeited.

Johnson’s insurance policy went into effect five months before he crashed face down on Florida State grounds. The 2020 Southeastern Conference Preseason Player of the Year became a trauma patient as he collapsed to the ground seconds after breaking up a squad group in Game 4 of the season delayed by COVID-19.

Johnson received emergency medical treatment in front of teammates, opponents and fans before being rushed to a hospital in Tallahassee. He spent 10 nights in hospitals before returning home. But he was never allowed to return to practice with the Gators.

His parents said last year that their son’s collapse was unrelated to a previous positive COVID-19 test, citing a consulting team that included experts from four highly respected medical schools. The family has not said what doctors believe caused the episode or whether Johnson has an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator.

Johnson spent the better part of the past two seasons cheering on his teammates from the bench as he remained enrolled in school and on a scholarship.

He took the field for some ceremonial dribbling and a farewell on a senior night against Kentucky in early March.

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